Thursday, January 12, 2017

Joop Homme: fragrance review

When King Kong punches his pectorals in wild dominance, you know there's an ominous threat of being squished into pulp any minute now. When Joop! Homme approaches, thundering like the bass off a distant Jeep with the speakers in full volume, you know you're in trouble. This thing is (or rather used to be) HUGE.

It shouldn't come as a surprise being conceived by perfumer Michel Almairac in the decade of excess, the 1980s, but it always comes into my mind with a chuckle when I consider that Joop! Homme is just 3 years senior to the perfume that needs to be applied with a Q-tip shaken before one's self to apply, i.e. Angel.

Much like that other Godzilla of perfumery it is a sweet perfume. And it's a deep pink; it's an ingenious counterpoint of a male fragrance being tinted in the color of Barbies and kids' cough syrup, and of a female fragrance (Angel) tinted in the hues of male childhood since at least Edwardian times!

The clustering of vanilla, coumarin (described as tonka beans), and heliotrope in Joop! Homme accounts for a furry-embrace experience from a King Kong in amorous disposition. And when you think your favorite primate is doing all the love motions known to primates since time immemorial, and drowning everything out with a welcome splash of Coca Cola, a beautiful, clean orange blossom note emerges like the corolla of a blossom. And then gets engulfed with fluffy notes like cherry pipe tobacco.

If "you beast!" is the desirable moan off the lips of a potential partner doing the down and dirty, Joop! Homme is a mighty fine choice. The Newland Archers of this world might find it crude though, be warned.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Frapin Caravelle Epicee: fragrance review

The road from Kerala has been finally constructed and the cargo all the way from its verdant backwaters is getting delivered to the ship traveling from the bays of the Indian ocean to Southampton. It carries on it a small quota of the spices of the East, in wooden chests decorated with the coat of arms of the port commander for his personal use. Amongst them nutmeg is the crowning glory, the seed of the Myristica tree, cool and tingling at the same time, redolent of that curious contradiction of serenity and languor that is the east to a westerner's mind.


All the splendour of the spice-laden ships has been translated into Caravelle Épicée by Frapin, a fragrance intended for armchair pirates contemplating looting one of them and sailing off to the Seychelles to enjoy the fruits of this escapade. And behold, what do I see in my pocket telescope? Here is a band of them storming the agile vessel with their sabres in hand!

They're inhaling the spicy notes escaping the small hold, caraway and coriander with their cool piquancy, a counterpoint to the hotness and dryness of black pepper, a potent mix never ceding to sweetness. They're already intoxicated with the good-smelling treasure they captured. Maybe too intoxicated to get through the risky voyage to the islands. I can see it even from here. The captain lies in ambush, his particular type of pipe tobacco lingering on the vessel long after he hid. There's hope for the ship yet!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque: fragrance review

Fumerie Turque (Turkish smoking salon) is one of the most majestic scents amidst the Serge Lutens impressive line-up of orientalise compositions that draw upon the vast tradition of the Middle East and its specific languor of the senses. It evokes the honeyed, rich tobacco blends which the Seljuk sultans reserved for their seraglios overlooking the Bosporus, the narguilé blends warming up with milky, rosy substances added to prolong the languorous enjoyment, the hour of contemplation.

Lutens and his perfumer, Chris Sheldrake, created an autumnal oriental for sensualists, men and women who appreciate the tender, soft embrace of a leather-lined guest salon, where the smell of sumptuous balsams, rich tobacco, dried fruits and honeyed rose loukhoums waft from across the canopied beds of the harem.

Its scent never fails to make me yearn for inchoate habits I never indulged, traditions which call upon a far heritage passed on by generations, and of lands which are never as far as away as imagined, but instead lie within a day's reach. Fumerie Turque is my personal piercingly erotic dare to the deceptively familiar.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fragrances for Christmas Occasions: My Personal Picks for 2016 Christmas and New Year's Day

For those of us not inclined to do mad shopping, nor partying till dawn just because it's the holidays, meeting with relatives and close friends who have distanced themselves spatially by moving to other countries is the very best part of what makes the holidays what they are. There's a beautiful ambivalence surrounding these meetings, which reminds me of the boyish hands-in-pockets and rocking-on-toes-a-bit pose that says "missed you" in the sort of shy manner that you know is really heartfelt. The feelings run so high, even if we do not admit them verbally, that a reassuring fragrance feels like welcome expression of the warmth that emanates from hearts that have grown fonder by the distance put in between.

My scent choice for those occasions is Tolu by Ormonde Jayne. The fragrance oscillates between the cozy affability of a classic "oriental", built on balsams and powdery amber, and the nostalgic, in the literal sense of "pain from an old wound", feeling that the sharp and aromatic elements bring to the composition. A whiff of frankincense lends it the spirituality which inevitably surrounds Christmas. Could it be that you're all meeting over candles burning with the flicker warming your hands praying for journeys ending in lovers' meeting? Or snacking over orange-flower-sprinkled butter cookies and sweet wine, reminiscing over past funny events?

There's a pang of moments in the future already lost when meeting knowing you must part again, and Ormonde Jayne's Tolu captures that perfectly. In the meantime, rejoice for the moments shared. It's the holidays, after all.

The other fragrances which I'm fondly thinking of wearing this holiday season are:

Ambre Narguile Hermes (Christmas baking)

Bois des Iles Chanel (Night out)

Dans tes bras Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (Clubbing)

Feminite du Bois Serge Lutens (Evening by the fire)

Nuit de Noel Caron (Silent Night, Holy Night)

Angeliques sous la Pluie Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (Rainy Morning After).

Saturday, December 10, 2016

L'Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two: fragrance review

Serious tea drinkers, as opposed to recreational ones, fall into two main categories: lovers of the inkiest, most tannic, smoky blends on the one hand, and the ultra-refined amateurs of floral-tinged varieties on the other. Tea for Two falls neatly into the cult obsession of the first group, people in search of a jolt of adrenaline thanks to the Lapsang Souchong tea variety felt all the way through, but also with the secret need for a comforting gingerbread man biscuit on the side. 


It's easy to picture Tea for Two on a bohemian, intelligent type who frequents libraries and smoking joints where important matters are discussed, because the complex mix of tobacco, aniseed and cinnamic vanilla is inextricably tied to a certain image in our minds. We all fell in love with someone like that at high school. Some of us still have this happen to us. Tea for Two tags at once at the unrequited longing and consoles for its loss. What could be more addictive?

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